Source: The New York Times, November 23, 2013
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com
In energy-friendly Wyoming, oil and gas companies are getting a clear message: Drill, baby, drill — but carefully.
Last week, state regulators approved one of the nation’s strongest requirements for testing water wells near drilling sites. The measure is intended to address concerns that groundwater can become contaminated from drilling activities.
It is the latest of several groundbreaking regulations related to energy production issued by Wyoming, which in 2010 became the first state to require disclosure of some of the chemicals used in the drilling process known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.
”I am not going to accept the question of do you want a clean environment or do you want energy,” said Gov. Matthew H. Mead, a Republican who championed the water-testing regulation. ”The fact is that in Wyoming, we want and need both.”
Wyoming ranks about fourth among states in natural gas production and eighth in oil production, which has grown rapidly in recent years.
The new water rule, which takes effect in March, will require oil and gas companies to test wells or springs within a half-mile of their drilling site, both before and after drilling. The tests will measure a range of factors, including temperature, bacteria, dissolved gases like methane and propane, and roughly 20 chemical compounds and elements including barium, benzene, strontium and nitrates.
The rule comes after another measure that took effect this month requiring drilling companies to monitor for certain air pollutants at new oil and gas production sites, and fix any leaks. The requirement applies only to an area in western Wyoming that struggles to keep ozone in check.…
Source: http://www.wyomingnews.com, July 21, 2013
By: Trevor Brown
Proposed new regulations move forward after an informal rule-making process.
A plan to require energy companies to test groundwater quality before and after drilling in Wyoming is closer to becoming a reality.
But environmentalists, landowner groups and industry members say how the state implements the policy could shape its effectiveness.
The Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission voted this week to move into a formal rule-making process to consider mandating baseline water testing.
The proposal calls for companies to sample and test water sources within a half mile before they drill.
Two rounds of water testing then would be required after the drilling.
The water will be checked for pH levels, odor, color, sediment and a list of dangerous chemicals that often are used during hydraulic fracturing.
Gov. Matt Mead announced his plan to require baseline testing when he released his energy policy in May.
The idea was praised by several environmental and landowner groups that longed have lobbied for the policy. But these groups also offered changes to the initial proposed rules released by the state.
The Cheyenne Area Landowners Coalition was among the groups that offered public comment during an informal rule-making process that just ended.…
Source: http://www.lexology.com, June 25, 2013
By: Wayne J. D’Angelo and Andrew M. McNamee, Kelley Drye & Warren LLP
The Environmental Protection Agency has abandoned its investigation into alleged groundwater contamination from hydraulic fracturing operations near Pavillion, Wyoming. The investigation will be continued by the state, funded by a $1.5 million grant from Encana Oil & Gas, Inc., the company that had been accused of contaminating the water. The agency will provide support to the state in its efforts to continue the investigation, but it will not finalize its study, seek peer review of its draft study, or rely on the conclusions of its draft report. The December 2011 report tentatively concluded that pollutants in the aquifer used for Pavillion’s drinking water likely came from hydraulic fracturing operations intended to draw gas from deeper geologic formations.
The Agency has been universally criticized for conducting an exceptionally flawed investigation and for publically releasing a draft report that was based on the flawed investigation, was not peer-reviewed, and which appeared to many to be drafted to fit a favored conclusion about the source of the contamination at Pavillion. As such, in many ways, the decision to abandon the probe was welcomed by many. Sens. Vitter (R-LA) and Inhofe (R-OK) commended the abandonment of the investigation, asserting that it lacked scientific credibility, and was driven by a political agenda to regulate hydraulic fracturing. Rep. Stewart (R-UT) issued a statement that he was glad the EPA “conceded that state-level expertise and capabilities are most appropriate for overseeing safe and responsible energy production.” Indeed, states are the primary regulators of oil and gas activity, including hydraulic fracturing. EPA’s missteps in the Pavillion investigation seem to suggest that, in addition to being the proper regulators of hydraulic fracturing activities, state entities may be best suited for investigation and enforcement of contamination allegedly caused by hydraulic fracturing.
The Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality will take control of the investigation. They are expected to conclude the investigation and release a final report by September 30, 2014.
Source: Wyoming Public Media, May 8, 2013
By: Irina Zhorov
An energy group says a recently released report overstated issues of water use by the oil and gas industry. The Western Organization of Resource Councils released the report last month and said regulators need to consider the quantity of water the energy industry uses, in addition to the quality.
But Research director for Energy in Depth, Simon Lomax, says the amount of water used for oil and gas development is .06-percent of total water use for Wyoming and the other three states studied, there are sufficient regulations in place, and that natural gas actually puts water into the hydrological cycle.
“For some reason they decided to ignore the amount of water that’s actually added to the hydrological cycle when you burn natural gas. It works out that for every billion cubic feet of natural gas that is burned you get about 11 million gallons of water added to the natural cycle in the form of water vapor,” says Lomax.
Powder River Basin Resource Council member Bob LeResche says, “water vapor going into the atmosphere does not replace it in a usable form for thousands of years, and even then, not locally.”
Source: http://www.csindy.com, January 26, 2012
By: Pam Zubeck
On a brisk morning in mid-October, El Paso County Commissioner Dennis Hisey and two county staffers took a trip.
They joined an Ultra Resources engineer, geologist and land manager on a private jet bound for the Pinedale Anticline, an 80-square-mile area in southwest Wyoming that’s rich with natural gas deposits.
They were retracing the flight path made the previous week by Commissioner Amy Lathen, Senior Assistant County Attorney George Monsson and development services project manager Craig Dossey.
Their goal, Hisey says, was to learn more about the operations of a company that plans to drill on the eastern edge of Colorado Springs and farther east in the county in the potentially prolific Niobrara Shale formation.
After the jet touched down in Wyoming, Hisey and the others were shuttled to a rig site on Bureau of Land Management land.
“It’s absolutely arid and barren. A few antelope out there,” Hisey says. “It’s as barren as anything you would see in eastern El Paso County.”
They watched workers add a section of pipe to a drill rig. They saw how Ultra deals with mud that comes back up from underground. They also observed disposal of spent drilling fluids into tanks and, ultimately, 14,000 feet underground.
“From my standpoint, I needed to do all the research I could based on the potential impact and e-mails I was getting,” Hisey says. “I had never seen a drilling rig before. I needed to know more before I started voting on regulations.”
Piping hot fajitas came via caterer to the drilling site. But neither over lunch, nor at any other time, did Hisey inquire about Ultra’s environmental record. “I didn’t ask them, ‘What kind of fines have you paid in the last 10 years?” he says. “I didn’t say, ‘Is EPA investigating you?'”…
Source: Los Angeles Times, December 12, 2011
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com
Natural gas companies that regularly use hydraulic fracturing to drill disclose the risks to shareholders, but not to landowners, according to a report released Monday.
As a result of disclosure requirements in federal securities law, some companies that have led the push into the mid-Atlantic and Northeast to use hydraulic fracturing have described to shareholders in explicit terms the potential dangers of their work, including leaks, spills and explosions. One company, Chesapeake Energy Corp., touted in its annual report in March that its efforts to lease land from private owners was a “land grab.”
At the same time, oil and gas companies and the land acquisition companies working for them did not mention to landowners the same potential safety and environmental risks, according to the report by the Environmental Working Group, a Washington-based organization that has been critical of the industry.
The report said a description by Cabot Oil & Gas, a major gas producer, in its 2008 form 10-K — a securities filing of the company’s performance — was typical: “Our business involves a variety of operating risks, including: well-site blowouts, cratering and explosions; equipment failures … pollution and other environmental risks.”
Hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as “fracking,” involves shooting water infused with chemicals and sand at high pressure into shale formations to tap reservoirs of natural gas.…